Disguise—Trust and Truth in Travel Writing

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This article contends that “disguise” has been both overlooked in studies of travel writing and is more complex than current studies suppose. The performance of disguise raises important questions about trust—in the traveler, in the truth of what is narrated, and in the knowledge gained in exploration. The article examines examples of disguise in action: nineteenth-century exploration; woman travelers dressing as men; use of scientific instruments by subterfuge. The article suggests that we must distinguish between the intention behind disguise, the forms taken in its performance, and the consequences of disguise. Rather than reject outright the truth claims of what, by the author’s own admission, was arrived at through deceit, the article argues that we must understand the reasons behind the adoption of disguise and that studies of travel writing should pay more attention to how and why disguise features in travel accounts and exploration narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 48-64
JournalTerrae Incognitae: The Journal for the History of Discoveries
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2021


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